There is growing concern about the impact of health information technology (IT) on patient-clinician communication, yet a study by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) finds that the use of health IT can affect consultations in positive or negative ways depending on a number of factors.
Recent studies have linked high computer use by clinicians with lower patient satisfaction. According to AMIA, the purpose of it study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, was to review the current literature on health IT use during the clinical encounter to update best practices and inform the continuous development of health IT policies and educational interventions.
For the study, researchers conducted a literature search of four databases and analyzed about 50 articles and then used a qualitative thematic analysis to compare and contrast the findings across the studies.
The researchers’ analysis found that the use of health IT affects consultations in complex ways, “impacting eye contact and gaze, information sharing, building relationships and pauses in the conversation,” according to the study abstract.
“Whether these impacts are positive or negative largely depends on the combination of the consultation room layout, patient and clinician styles of interaction with health IT as well as with each other, and the strategies and techniques employed by clinicians to integrate health IT into consultations,” the study authors wrote.
And, the study authors stated that in-depth insights into the impact of health IT on the clinical encounter can inform policies, educational interventions and research.
“In contrast to the common negative views of HIT, it affects the clinical encounter in multiple ways. By applying identified strategies and best practices, HIT can support patient-clinician interactions rather than interfering with them,” the study authors wrote.